Is the Future Self-Employed?

Ten Rules to Succeed in the Gig Economy

In August 2018, a Gallup poll found that 36% of American workers do so within the “Gig Economy.”  

“Gig,” is used in this case as in showbiz vernacular. Meaning: employment for a short or specified period of time.  

Freelance self -employment will only continue to grow. A function of technological innovation, an evolving marketplace, a desire for flexibility, and changing corporate culture.

36% of America’s workers amounts to 57 million people. That’s a lot of us suddenly thrown into employment by gig, versus the traditional 9 to 5.  

I’ve successfully navigated self-employment since resigning from my “real job” in 1994. Heck, I was in the Gig Economy before there even was one! So, what do YOU need to know to prosper as a Gigger? I’ll tell you. 

10 Rules of Successful Self-Employment 

  1. The most important rule of self-employment is realizing that there is no such thing. We ALL work for other people. These people are our paying clients and customers. Remember, every dollar you’ll earn for the rest of your life is currently someone else’s dollar!

  2. Be a service provider. Every company claims their service is impeccable. They’re lying. Service is really just effort. If you want your current gig to turn into future, higher paying gigs, put in the effort and serve your clients.

  3. Be of value. You might be the most talented, smartest person in the room with advanced degrees. But that doesn’t guarantee you gigs. Because all of your attributes are meaningless until they deliver something of value to a paying customer. People spend money on what they value.

  4. Listen. Most people don’t listen to understand, they listen to respond. You need to do BOTH. Listen to customers to understand their needs. Listen to the marketplace so you can respond to be relevant tomorrow.

  5. Realize you’re replaceable. Eventually, we’ll ALL be replaced. And eventually, most things become commoditized. Strive to make yourself difficult to replace. Be competent, valuable, distinct, and above all, hard to replicate.

  6. You’re Probably Not Necessary. Most of us are not selling life or death necessities. That’s the nature of an advanced economy. If the world can live without you (and they can), your daily challenge is to demonstrate how much better your prospects will feel by doing business with you.

  7. Others Will Copy You. The more success you experience the more you’ll be copied. Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. Imitation is the reality of a marketplace filled with uninventive laggards too dumb to come up with their own idea. So….they steal yours. Then they charge less. Because the non-creative know only one way to compete: by being cheaper. Constantly Reinvent!

  8. You needn’t be all things to all people. Fortunes have been made doing obscure things in industries you’ve never heard of serving clients you know nothing about. It’s dangerous to have a gig with only one customer, because they’ll control you. But it’s just fine - and can be very profitable - to serve a niche.

  9. Profitability is the most important “P.” Your business personality gravitates toward one or two of the 5P’s: Product, Process, People, Promotion, and Profitability. Success comes from applying the strength of your business personality to your gig. Whichever of the first four P’s you gravitate toward, own it. But be damn sure you possess the fifth P —profitability.

  10. Save & invest your money. There will be slow months. In the Gig Economy there’s no unemployment insurance or company furlough payments. You want the freedom and flexibility of self employment? Secure it by saving for the slow months and by investing to make yourself more valuable for the next gig!

The Gig Economy is neither good nor bad, it’s just here. You can prosper within it by applying these ten rules.  

Damian Mason was successfully navigating the Gig Economy before there even was one! For information, speaking engagements, video samples, podcast episodes, or to buy his book, go to 

Angie Carel